We heard about Google's Play store gift cards a few days ago, but at the time, nothing was official. Now, the time has come where the Mountain View-based company has come clean, and officially announced the availability of the Google Play gift cards.
They'll be made available in three denominations, $10, $25, and $50 and should arrive at Target, RadioShack and GameStop retail stores across the United States in the coming weeks. As for availability outside of the US, Google have not hinted at this just yet.
But, they have said that they'll be made available through Walmart.com later on this month, but not at the brick and mortar Walmart stores for now. The gift cards can be used to purchase anything from the Google Play store, which includes music, books, movies, apps and more.
Nokia is doing its best to hang in the smartphone market and has placed a large bet on Windows Phone. Instead of investing in Android like many of Nokia's competitor's did, they opted to stick with Microsoft's Windows Phone. And while they have the largest market share of Windows Phone phones, their overall market share is still really low.
As you can see in the graph above, total Windows Phone sales increased for nearly every manufacturer as the market grew, but Nokia managed to pull way away from the competition with their Nokia Lumia line of Windows Phone. This resulted in lower market shares for the other companies, such as Samsung dropping from 23 to 13 percent or HTC dropping from 44 to 21 percent.
However, in the US market, HTC is still the leader with 36 percent of the market. Nokia holds a close second at 32 percent and Samsung is in third with 26 percent. Nokia didn't launch a phone in the United States until January and you can see how much their sales took off between then and July. Localytics explains how Microsoft has a partner in Nokia:
Rather than relying on partners like Samsung, who is heavily invested in expanding Android's dominance, Microsoft has in Nokia a partner with as much riding on mobile Windows success as the Redmond-based software giant.
Microsoft and Nokia are holding a joint press conference on September 5, at which it is suspected they will jointly launch Windows Phone 8 and a new line of Lumia phones.
Billionaire, early Facebook investor and board member, Peter Thiel, dumps a bunch of his Facebook shares
Peter Thiel is a lot of things, a billionaire, an early Facebook investor, and board member of the social network, and to add to that, he's a little richer thanks to dumping a tonne of his shares in Facebook. Forbes is reporting that Thiel sold the majority of the shares in Facebook under his name last week, citing a financial document filed on Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Thiel, with his venture capital firm, Founders Fund, sold close to 20.1 million shares late last week, which represent 72% of the shares voted by Thiel. Thiel is the first investor in Facebook who has dumped this amount of shares, and it should put shivers down the spines of any investors in the social network. Facebook shares have absolutely tanked since they first went public, dipping below $19, or under half their initial opening price of $38 per share.
PayPal has enjoyed its side of the mobile payments deal lately, but landing a client like McDonald's would definitely be a great move. Reuters is reporting that PayPal are in the early stages of a mobile payments deal with McDonald's Corp, the world's biggest hamburger chain.
McDonald's have been testing out PayPal at 30 of their restaurants in France, and also used the service earlier this year at their franchisee conference in Orlando, Florida. A McDonalds spokeswoman has confirmed the France tests, and said that the PayPal-based demonstration at their conference was part of a booth that features "technology coming within the next 24 months or so".
McDonald's France test included being able to order food on smart devices through a McDonald's mobile application, or online, where you'd pay with PayPal. PayPal with McDonald's would make it even easier to place your order, and pick it up, as you'd be able to cut lines in the restaurant itself. Gil Luria, an analyst at Wedbush Securities has said that "if they can shave 10 seconds off wait times, same-store sales could go up a lot".
We know that Apple's iPhone is a phenomenon, but just how far does it go? We reported yesterday that Apple's stock reached an all-time high of $648.11, but even today they've reached another all-time high of $665.15. How do they compare against another juggernaut, such as Microsoft? Forbes reports that Apple's iPhone sales are now worth more than all of Microsoft:
One Apple product, something that didn't exist five years ago, has higher sales than everything Microsoft has to offer. More than Windows, Office, Xbox, Bing, Windows Phone, and every other product that Microsoft has created since 1975. In the quarter ended March 31, 2012, iPhone had sales of $22.7 billion; Microsoft Corporation, $17.4 billion.
Defining the word "worth" when using it in this piece, doesn't really equate to iPhone beats Microsoft, but it's close. Apple's sales of the iPhone are seriously huge, and they eclipse everything that Microsoft does, even when you combine multiple parts of the Redmond-based company's business.
It looks like HTC are wanting some of that sweet enterprise market with their latest investment in US-based enterprise platform firm, Magnet Systems. The device maker has invested $35.4 million in the company, hoping to enhance service offerings to mobile enterprise customers, reports Reuters. HTC said in a statement on Monday:
The investment will bring social, mobile, and cloud capabilities to HTC's portfolio of service offerings to its mobile enterprise customers.
Magnet Systems is based in Silicon Valley, and are a platform builder of next-generation enterprise applications that boost the development and delivery of mobile enterprise applications, says HTC.
Judge Alsup, the judge presiding over the Oracle v Google lawsuit has decided that Google's disclosure, in response to his August 7 mandate, did not comply. As such, he has reissued the mandate with a few clarifications and has given Google until noon on August 24 to comply. He has also instructed Oracle to update its disclosure if the clarified mandate brings to light any new people that should be disclosed.
The August 7 order was not limited to authors "paid...to report or comment" or to "quid pro quo" situations. Rather, the order was designed to bring to light authors whose statements about the issues in the case might have been influenced by the receipt of money from Google or Oracle. For example, Oracle has disclosed that it retained a blogger as a consultant. Even though the payment was for consulting work, the payment might have influenced the blogger's reports on issues in the civil action. Just as a treatise on the law may influence the courts, public commentary that purports to be independent may have an influence on the courts and/or their staff if only in subtle ways. If a treatise author or blogger is paid by a litigant, should not that relationship be known?
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Motorola wants fisticuffs with Apple, files patent lawsuit to see the block of Apple-made products sold in the US
Just as Samsung and Apple's lawsuit comes to a close, Google's recently-acquired Motorola is now taking a swing at the Cupertino-based company. Motorola have claimed that Apple are infringing on seven of its patents, and are seeking to block the iPhone, iPad, and Mac computers from being imported into the United States.
Google acquired the device maker back in February, and until now, Motorola have been tightly lipped on its previous problems with Apple. But, according to a piece from Bloomberg, Google's Motorola division have just filed a new patent lawsuit against the company, opening up some of those old, sore wounds that were leftover from Motorola and Apple's long history of legal disputes. Motorola's complaint over at the US International Trade Commission (ITC) named features such as location reminders, e-mail notifications, along with phone and video players as possible infringements.
Apple's new iPhone has caused quite the stir in the world, not just among Apple fans, but technology fans and now people who hold Apple shares. If you thought the shares in Apple couldn't do any better, well, they have, and they're sitting at $648.11 per share.
This is most likely due to the barrage of news we've seen in the form of rumors and speculation based on the upcoming new iPhone, as well as the iPad mini. Considering that the company holds a tidy $607 billion in the bank, Apple could be heading toward that magical $1 trillion mark in the not too distant future. What's scarier, is the Cupertino-based company's shares have increased by a whopping 57% this year, from the low $400 mark to the now $648.11 per share.
But the fun doesn't end there, if Apple hits $1,072 per share, they'll be the first ever company to reach the $1 trillion market cap. The way things are going, there's nothing stopping them. Even if the new iPhone comes out and doesn't impress in the technology community, it'll still sell in the tens of millions anyway.
Facebook's Instagram deal is worth just $738 million, far short of the $1 billion-plus from a few months ago
When Facebook's acquisition of Instagram happened, which took just a weekend to happen, it was valued at over $1 billion. This was mainly because the social network's stock prices were quite high pre-IPO, and the deal with Instagram included $300 million in cash, and 22,999,412 shares of Facebook, valued at $38 a piece.
We've seen how the Facebook shares have tanked, yes I've used the word again, and continue to do so. This has had a ripple effect on Instagram, with the first trade of Facebook coming in at a now incredible $42.05, with the same shares now trading at a paltry $19.05 on Friday. This is a huge 41.88% difference between the first trade, and Friday's pricing.
This means if we include the $300 million in cash Instagram will take, as well as the near-23 million shares, the deal is sitting at just $738.1 million. As you can see, $738 million compared to over $1 billion is quite the difference in just a couple of months.
It looks as though OnLive has gone through quite the headache over the weekend, where it was first reported that the entire staff of the streaming gaming company had been laid off. But, the official word is that OnLive's assets were acquired by a "newly-formed company" that has "substantial funding".
As the story continued, it looks as though a single investor has come in who was interested in the company and decided they've like to own it. Some of the freshly-unemployed ex-OnLive staffers were re-hired to join the new business that the investor had purchased, OnLive Reloaded, maybe? There would still be some that were cut, but with the remaining employees, they've said that OnLive's IP would be moved over to the new company, but this leaves the ex-staffers' shares to be wondered about.
This then lead to news of their shares in the company, those shares would not be transferred to the new company as the original is closing. CEO of Tiswaz Entertainment who is also an advisor to game developers and publishers, Kevin Dent has had quite a lot to say of the matter, but on the matter of the employees shares:
In order for their shares to be transferred, the new investors would have to agree to sell shares for zero cents on the dollar to each of the employees. That's not happening, I know that for a fact.
There's a juicy rumor making the rounds, but it is being reported by the New York Post, and not by some vague blog. But, it looks like KKR and Providence Equity Partners have been in discussions with EA, with the talks at "very early stages".
We've seen EA's share prices drop 37% this year, but the rumors have spiked their stock prices by close to 5.5% ,or 72 cents, seeing them hit $13.81 thanks to the talks. EA's market cap sits at around $4 billion with one source saying they would be willing to cut a deal if it were at $20 per share.
One of the weirder things going on with EA, is that they've been slowly buying back stock from investors, which could be a preemptive move if they were considering putting up a 'for sale' sign. EA hasn't only been watching their share prices tank, they've not been able to make success in the market lately. This comes down to gamers not willing to part their hard-earned cash for a new game at the current $60-or-so pricing, instead, they're jumping on mobile and casual games which can be played for free.
As the Apple v Samsung legal battle draws to a close, a financial expert has said that Apple overstated Samsung's profit margins on smartphones which resulted in a highly inflated damages estimate. Not only has Samsung refuted Apple's case, but they have also gone on the offensive and claimed they should be paid $422 million in damages.
These damages are due to iPhone and iPad infringement on a couple of Samsung's patents. Michael Wagner is an accountant who testified on Samsung's behalf. He said that Samsung US profits from tablets and smartphones should be calculated at only $519 million. This is opposed to Apple's witness who claimed Samsung's profit margin was around 35.5 percent from mid-2010 on.
Samsung's claim for damages seems to be a much more realistic and reasonable number. Take for example their claim of $22.8 million for 'seamlessly emailing a photograph.' Their reasoning for this small amount is that "they're one of many features on the phone." A financial expert for Samsung has said that the wireless patents infringed upon are worth up to $399 million. With these two numbers, Samsung arrived at its figure of $422 million.
Apple and Google are probably rolling in piles and piles of cash right now, thanks to their ever-so-popular and cash-generating iTunes and Play Stores, respectively. But, portable game console makers (among other things) Sony and Nintendo aren't too happy with Android and iOS devices, as they're more than powerful enough to play high-quality games these days.
Considering that high-end tablets such as Apple's iPad, ASUS' Transformer range, or Samsung's Galaxy range, are more powerful than most of Sony or Nintendo's portable gaming systems, I don't see the complaint. Stay stagnant, and this is what happens. Fortune reports from the latest research of Flurry Analytics, which shows that Android and iOS-based devices accounting for 58% of all mobile gaming revenue in the US.
It was only back in April that we reported that Apple were investing heavily into an Oregon-based datacenter, putting up $250 million for the site. Well, now it seems that the Cupertino-based company has filed their plans with the city of Prineville, where its goal has been revealed for the datacenter.
The Oregon datacenter is to take up 500,000 square feet of datacenter space, which is around the same as Apple's Maiden, North Carolina facility. The Associated Press reports:
The plan shows two buildings with more than 500,000 square feet of what are described as "data halls," The Bend Bulletin reported Wednesday. The plan doesn't say when Apple might start building.
"They really didn't say how long they are looking at," Prineville senior planner Joshua Smith said.
A company spokeswoman, Kristin Huguet, referred Wednesday to the company's early statements on the development, which forecast "hiring dozens of people and bringing hundreds of construction jobs to the area" but didn't set a construction schedule.
Cisco have announced their results for the company's most recently quarter, where they revealed earnings that beat analysts expectations. Cisco is cautiously optimistic regarding the future, but maintains that its too early to call the most recent streak a trend.
Cisco notes that the European market is something of a challenge for the company going forward. The router maker posted $11.7 billion in revenue for the three months, up 4% from the year-earlier quarter. From the $11.7 billion, Cisco took $2.5 billion in operating profit, or 47 cents per share. Wall Street analysts pegged the company to do around $11.6 billion in revenue for the quarter.
The company cited strong Asian demand on their products and services, in particular, China. Cisco saw improvement in the US market, but the European market with its on-going economic problems, saw demand for Cisco-based gear drop. Cisco expects that the on-going financial crisis in Europe will continue to see Cisco orders drop in that part of the world. In order to keep the trend of nice profits, Cisco plans on cost-cutting which they've been doing for quite a while now. This will involve significant job cuts and a refocusing of the company's efforts.
Whenever I walk through my local supermarket, I see so many giftcards, for Facebook, iTunes for League of Legends, and so much more. Google are the latest with Google Play Store receiving some gift cards, which are clearly marked as such.
Android Central have snapped a few photos of the $10 and $25 gift cards, where they display "Google Play" as well as "Music Movies Books Apps & More" down the bottom. The triangle logo is shown off quite well, and should stand out from the crowd of gift cards, hopefully.
Unknown at the moment, is where the gift cards will be made available. I'm based in Australia, so I most likely won't see them until 2015 or so, but if anyone in the US (which is where they'll most likely launch first) sees them, please do let us know in the comments below!
HBO and Fox have reportedly inked a new deal that renews a rights agreement that was set to expire in 2015. The new deal will see Fox movies continue to air on HBO until 2022, but more importantly, Fox and HBO officials are saying that the new agreement includes a "softening" of something known as the electronic sell-through window.
Previously, HBO stood by a strict policy that while the company was running a movie for the first time, no one else could sell or rent a title electronically. But, this new deal will have Fox still selling the movies, but not renting them, on digital storefronts at the same time as HBO first runs the flick. This new change will hopefully improve the selection of movies on digital services such as iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Instant Video, which in the past have been forced to temporarily pull content to keep HBO happy.
This new deal should also see other studios open up their hearts, too. Are we seeing a digital sea change? Let's hope so.
The United States government just can't seem to catch a break when it comes to the MegaUpload/Kim Dotcom lawsuit. First, the warrant used to raid his house has been overturned by New Zealand. Then, his extradition hearing was pushed all the way back to March, 2013. Now, a New Zealand court has ruled that the FBI must release all evidence against him for his extradition hearing.
This strikes a major blow to the United States as the FBI has been doing their best to keep their evidence secret. The New Zealand court has made a logical argument in which they state that "severely restrict[ing] the ability of [one party] to file relevant evidence would not easily be characterised as 'fair.'"
The New Zealand court asserts that there is no reason that the evidence cannot be presented in New Zealand and subsequently presented in the United States. Furthermore, the court cites the Bill of Rights Act and it's requirements for a fair hearing. Some interesting sections of the ruling follow:
Jon Peddie Research, a company dedicated to research and consulting regarding graphics and multimedia has announced its estimated graphics chip shipments and market share for Q2 2012. The numbers look promising across the board as total chip shipments are up 2.7 percent. The majority of companies increased shipments while a few decreased.
Looking at the numbers, Intel had a great quarter. Their market share went up 2.9 percent, likely due to Ivy Bridge shipments. They shipped 7.8 percent more units this quarter than last. It would appear that all of this positive for Intel was at the cost of AMD. AMD's market share declined by 2.5% and they saw decreased shipments of 7.5 percent.
NVIDIA, still riding the success of Kepler saw improved numbers as well. They shipped 0.4 percent more units this quarter than last, however, their market share is down 0.4 percent. The late introduction of (and still lack of product) in the lower end has likely been a contributing factor to this as these are the products which sell in high numbers.
It's seems as though Judge Lacy Koh is getting more and more frustrated with the Apple v Samsung patent battle every day and most of that frustration appears to be towards Apple. Today, Apple turned in a 75-page brief detailing 22 potential witnesses they might call after Samsung finishes and it pushed Judge Koh over the edge and she let Apple have it.
After the jury left the courtroom, Judge Koh turned to Apple and asked why they would submit such a lengthy document "when, unless you're smoking crack, you know these witnesses aren't going to be called!" William Lee, a lawyer for Apple, stepped forward and said "First, your honor, I'm not smoking crack. I can promise you that."
They then agreed to shorten the document as another of Apple's lawyers claimed they didn't mean to burden the court. As the discourse went on, Koh became even more frustrated with the parties and started charging them time. "I'm billing time because you all are being unreasonable," she said. She wants this trial done on schedule and doesn't want to put up with any more lawyer tactics.